Lactic acidosis

Leave a comment

June 13, 2017 by Casey Carr

By: Binoy Mistry MD

Created by a lack of balance between lactate production and metabolism

Type A Lactic AcidosisTissue hypo-perfusion resulting from hypovolemia, cardiac failure, sepsis, cardiac or respiratory arrest, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc.

Type B Lactic Acidosis – NO evidence of systemic hypo-perfusion. Includes toxin-induced impairment of cellular metabolism, regional areas of ischemia, impaired pyruvate dehydrogenase activity, impaired conversion of lactate, etc.

  1. Diabetes Mellitus – 3 mechanisms: Metformin, DKA – likely related to hypovolemia, D-lactic acid as a metabolite of acetone and dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DKA)
  2. Malignancy – pathogenesis not well understood. Possibly due to increased production by neoplastic cells
  3. Alcoholism – Decreased lactate hepatic clearance, oxidation of ethanol generates NADH (shifts pyruvate to lactate production)
  4. Mitochondrial dysfunction – congenital or acquired defects, drug-related. (ex. Propofol, linezolid, ART meds), Cyanide toxicity
  5. Beta-agonists – Exact mechanism unclear – possible increased pyruvate production, increase in glycogenolysis and glycolysis. 2 small prospective studies and multiple case reports have described lactate elevation after inhaled or IV Beta-agonist use. Unclear exact amount of lactate elevation.
  6. Thiamine deficiency – impaired pyruvate dehydrogenase activity
  7. Seizures, severe exercise – increased O2 demand


Take Home Message:

  • Be aware that other things apart from hypo-perfusion can cause lactic acidosis
  • Interpret lab values and imaging in the context of the patient in front of you
  • Saying your lactate of 5.0 is due to albuterol should be a diagnosis of exclusion!



  1. Dodda VR, PS. Can Albuterol Be Blamed for Lactic Acidosis? Respiratory Care. 2012;57(12):2115-2118
  2. Kraut JA, Madias NE. Lactic Acidosis. N Engl J Med. 2014;371(24):2309-2319

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: